Marketing with Mansfield

Forest, Meet Trees! Why You Need to Market to Your EXISTING Customers.

SeeingForestI got a call from a salesperson friend of mine in O&P. They had an interesting anecdote they wanted to share. The company they work for had received an unsolicited testimonial regarding a component they sell and the happy customer/patient wanted to know if they’d be able to “be active, like the amputee guy I saw on TV?

The sales-friend was taken aback. The patient’s prosthetist is a well known and respected practitioner. Capable, compassionate and talented. The patient using their component was certainly physically able to be just as active as “TV guy.” Sales-friend’s first thought was “Why are they asking us and not their prosthetist?” Their second thought was “I better call Elizabeth and let her know!” (What a good friend!)

So here we are – getting ready to talk about why it’s so important to market to your existing customers. By market I mean, of course, let them know what services you provide, what products and services there are available, what your other patients are up to. It’s also important to solicit feedback regularly. I wonder if the patient who yearned to do more only realized that it was possible AFTER watching ‘TV guy” do his thing?!?!

Your current customers – referral sources, customers, patients, family and friends – are as close to a captive audience as you can possibly get. Whether they are physically visiting your office or if you are providing them with written or digital communications, they are most likely receptive and interested in information you can share with them. For any business to grow, it needs new customers but it also needs its existing customers to remain and to stay happy and satisfied.

If the yearning-to-do-more patient happened across information, word of mouth or marketing materials for another practitioner, one that they felt offered them something they weren’t able to get, even if it was as simple as encouragement to pursue their dreams, more than likely they’d be a lost customer. People like to feel like they belong! They like to feel like they are understood. Sharing testimonials from a wide range of patients with the rest of your patients is an excellent way of marketing to your existing customers.

I am a big fan of using short, sweet, “in their own words” types of testimonials in marketing materials. Facebook, websites, Instagram and EMAIL NEWSLETTERS are where you want to use these accolades. It’s content you don’t need to create yourself! It’s more authentic. What’s more effective? “We provide our patients with the highest quality orthotic and prosthetic devices.” Or “My prosthetist, J.P., worked with me every single day after school until I was confident enough with my running leg to try out for the track team.”

A lot of people in healthcare professions are in them because they really truly want to help people, to make their lives better. They are uncomfortable doing what they feel is bragging or boasting. “I’m just doing my job” when someone thanks them for changing their life for the better.

As my grandfather used to say when he wanted to change the subjet – “Let’s get off that kick!” You need to work harder at letting your existing customers know how you can make their lives, and the lives of their friends and relatives, even better. Take an active role in communicating your successes to your captive audience and have them help you grow your business. Let’s get ON that kick!

General, Marketing with Mansfield

Pro Tip: Don’t Bash the Boss Behind Their Back…At Work!

hotdogs2__2__720Recently we took a trip out of town for a birthday party. Friends and family were all gathering for a multi-day celebration. All the lunches and dinners were going to be a chance for everyone to get together but one morning we checked Yelp for a nearby breakfast option.

We scrolled past a bunch of nearby restaurants and came up with a café that had perfectly acceptable reviews. We hopped in the car and drove over to a long strip mall that had all kinds of little stores and restaurants. It was hot! We were pretty hungry and we grabbed the first parking spot we could find. It was right in front of a place that specializes in hot dogs. I’d seen it listed on Yelp and the reviews were fine but I didn’t really consider it for breakfast since hot dogs… but it had a breakfast menu posted on a chalkboard out front and it sounded good so we went in.

It was tiny. There were bar stools at the counter, a couple of tables and a few low stools at a makeshift counter by the window. The staff was super friendly, the food was delicious and the whole dining experience was terrific. However, I write a marketing column so…even when I’m not actually writing the column, I am always thinking about what the next topic should be and, most importantly, how it will relate to O&P.

The friendly staff? They were lovely and attentive to us and to all the other customers and there were clearly a whole bunch of regulars. But, they would NOT stop talking about their boss. It was pretty clear the boss was the owner.  We were so happy with the food and the service that we went back the next day for breakfast. Saturday morning – we went earlier than Friday and it was jammed. Were the staff talking about the boss again? They absolutely were. In addition to talking about him, and actually mentioning him by name, they were also talking about his business partner or significant other. What did we learn after two breakfasts? He’s very strict and the staff does things all day long that they’d get in trouble for IF he knew that’s what they were doing.

An example? Someone froze the barbecue topping they use and the boss would lose his mind if he knew that it had been frozen because that is a major no no. Everything from the way they cleaned the grill, to how they prepped certain dishes and what the boss’ take on it would be was discussed in full detail right in front of all us paying customers. This town is a tourist destination and it’s pretty busy down there year round but not all the people in there were from out of town.  I know because the place was so tiny that you were eavesdropping on everyone in there just by being in the room.

When we left the restaurant on Saturday morning I knew our breakfast adventure would be the topic of the next column. I learned a lot about “Boss guy” during our two meals and I’m fairly certain that he would be looking for a whole new staff if he knew he was the main topic of conversation every day at work and that the customers could hear every word.

It shows a lack of respect for the customers if you think they are so invisible or unimportant that you can air all your dirty work laundry for them to hear.  How disrespectful is it to the guy paying you while you’re supposed to be working for him? What about the “no no’s”? What is one of those customers was the health inspector or, god forbid, some kind of blogger or online columnist?!

Like I said, the food was so good we went back a second time and the staff were friendly and the service was great. I’m sure there are some business owners out there in O&P land who have friendly staff, that provide good customer service and whose devices and services are top notch but who have no idea that their employees are publicly venting, either in person OR ONLINE about things that they shouldn’t be. If I were “Boss guy” I’d send a couple friends from out of town in and have them give me some feedback and then do some (re)training!

Have you had a similar experience? How’d you handle it? Let me know!

General, Marketing with Mansfield

No Marketing Department? So What!

Any worthwhile marketing plan uses different tools and strategies to achieve its desired outcomes. Advertising, direct mail, email newsletters, education-based marketing, webisodes, tweets, tv commercials, facebook ads, etc., are all used in an attempt to reach the target markets.

But some of them can cost money, sometimes lots and lots of money.  If you don’t have a marketing department or a marketing budget, not to worry. You just need a marketing plan. That plan should include press releases. While the marketing landscape has changed enormously in the recent past, one thing never changes and that is the need for content.

All of the channels – not just your “typical” old-school channels like an actual television channel or radio channel – but ALL the channels need content. So, put your thinking cap on and start brain storming about how you can make someone else’s job easier. Someone whose job is to create content.

Say that you’re the owner of an orthotic & prosthetic patient care facility. Say that you have an adorable puppy or an endangered bird or a miniature horse that required some type of prosthetic or orthotic device. You could post the story on your business facebook page, of course. You could show the before and after photos on your instagram account. You could tweet about it. You could send out updates in your email newsletter. BUT, you could also send a press release with photos to… your college alumni magazine or your hometown newspaper or the humane society where the dog was adopted from or the marketing department of the zoo or… there are so many “content-craving” channels out there that need to be fed. Don’t ignore them just because it’s so very easy to feed your own channels.

People expect that you’re going to be marketing to them, targeting them, utilizing your own content channels – like facebook or instagram – but by sharing your content with others you can boost your credibility. Sure, the zoo magazine or your alumni publication might have a slightly different focus or angle to the story but so what? We all can use help getting (and keeping) the word out there. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more time and effort making someone else’s job easier – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results!

 

Marketing with Mansfield

Why You Need to Market to Your Existing Customers!

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Everywhere you look these days you see people with limb loss in movies, tv shows, ads, webisodes, instagram posts, etc. You get the picture…

I got a call awhile ago from an O&P sales-friend. They wanted to share a juicy story. Their employer had received an unsolicited testimonial regarding a component they sell and the happy customer/patient wanted to know if they’d be able to “be active, like the guy on Dancing with the Stars?”

The sales-friend was taken aback. The patient’s prosthetist is a well known and respected practitioner. Qualified, skilled and caring. The patient using their component was certainly physically able to be just as active as Noah. Sales-friend’s first thought was “Why are they asking us and not their prosthetist?” Second thought was “I better call Elizabeth and let her know!” (That’s a good sales-friend!)

THIS! This is why it’s SO important to market to your existing customers. By market, I mean let them know what services you provide, what products and services there are available, what your other patients are up to. They don’t know what they don’t know and it’s up to you to keep them informed! It’s also vitally important to solicit feedback regularly. I wonder if the patient who yearned to do more only realized that it was possible after watching Noah on Dancing with the Stars?

Your current customers – referral sources, customers, patients, family and friends – are as close to a captive audience as you can possibly get. Whether they are physically visiting your office or if you are providing them with written or digital communications, they are most likely receptive and interested in information you can share with them. For any business to grow, it needs new customers but it also needs its existing customers to remain and to stay happy and satisfied.

If the yearning patient happened across information, word of mouth or marketing materials for another practitioner, one that they felt offered them something they weren’t able to get, even if it was as simple as encouragement to pursue their dreams, more than likely they’d be a lost customer. People like to feel like they belong. They like to feel like they are understood. Sharing testimonials from a wide range of patients with the rest of your patients is an excellent way of marketing to your existing customers.

I am a big fan of using short, sweet, “in their own words” types of testimonials in marketing materials. Facebook, websites, Instagram and newsletters are where you want to use these accolades. It’s content you don’t need to create yourself. It’s more authentic. What’s more effective? “We provide our patients with the highest quality orthotic and prosthetic devices.” Or “My prosthetist, J.P., worked with me every single day after school until I was confident enough with my running leg to try out for the track team.”

A lot of people in healthcare professions are in them because they really truly want to help people, to make their lives better. They are uncomfortable doing what they feel is bragging or boasting. “I’m just doing my job” when someone thanks them for changing their life for the better.

As my grandfather used to say – “Let’s get off that kick!” You need to work harder at letting your existing customers know how you can make their lives, and the lives of their friends and relatives, even better. Take an active role in communicating your successes to your captive audience and have them help you grow your business.

Marketing with Mansfield

Language “Barrier” is not a Barrier, it’s an Opportunity

 

The Spanish-speaking population is one of the fastest growing segments in the world, especially in the United States. This community constitutes a huge market segment that shares products, services and culture. In short, this community presents a huge marketing opportunity for the orthotic & prosthetic field…YOU!

According to the American Marketing Association, the definition of marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” (AMA) Creating, communicating and delivering offerings of value. What could be more valuable than speaking to your potential customers in their primary language?

Important Materials

If you are a patient care facility, what should you translate? Care and use guides, frequently asked questions (Prosthetic/Orthotic FAQs), not so frequently asked questions but ones that people SHOULD ask, insurance and/or reimbursement instructions and the like are a good start.

If you are a manufacturer – how about providing installation, fabrication and alignment instructions for practitioners and technical staff whose primary language is Spanish?

Here are some important facts regarding the Spanish language:

  1. There are 21 countries whose general population is able to speak Spanish. (Learn Language)
  2. More than 400 million people speak Spanish worldwide. (Trusted Translations)
  3. The United Nations has deemed Spanish to be one of the six official languages. (United Nations) (Why? See #1 and #2.)

So, if you think having a Spanish language site or marketing materials in Spanish is a waste of time and money because your company is “local”, you need to think again. While the majority of Hispanic speakers are concentrated in the top cities in the United States, there has been a significant migration to other areas including: Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, among others.

Translation Tips

Translate marketing materials at an appropriate reading level for the intended reader. Do not write at a doctoral level if the intended reader is not reading at a PhD level. Practice cultural sensitivity as much as possible. Remember Chevrolet’s Nova? Nova means “no go” in Spanish. Not a great name for a car. Make sure you do not run into the same problem with your products, services, website url, etc.

Get local feedback. Assemble an advisory committee that can give you helpful feedback on your efforts. Do NOT rely solely on a website translation program. Remember, you are trying to positively and respectfully communicate with your target markets. If you think “it’s the thought that counts, right” then you need to think again. Offer well-thought-out, correct translations. You do not want to do more harm than good!